The last $8000 in the cost of an award-winning 1993 renovation for Carlington Community and Health Services' building at 900 Merivale Road has been paid off by Loyal Orange Lodge 85 of Nepean. The Lodge decided to commit $2000 a year over the last four years to the cost of buying and adapting the former T.P. Maxwell School for use as a modern family medicine clinic, counselling centre and community hub, and cut its last cheque this June.
Fittingly, the money comes from the Orange Lodge's decision to sell its own building some years ago--also an old school, notes Orange Lodge member Al Helmer. “The Merivale Lodge was an old schoolhouse at the corner of Slack Road. We were getting fewer and we decided to sell it to the Optimists. Since then, we have used the proceeds to do good work with the interest.”
Mr. Helmer was one of the earliest Board members for an organization that started out as Carlington Community Resource Centre with two staff in a basement office in 1984. During his decade of involvement with the Centre, he had encouraged its growth into new areas such as community economic development and the much-needed medical services.
When he heard about the need for community donations to the $2.9 million purchase and renovation (most of it covered by the Ontario Ministry of Health), he persuaded his Lodge brothers to pitch in.
Peter Mix, a Westboro resident who now chairs the CCHS board of directors, is grateful for the help. “The Orange Lodge have been very generous in providing us with this grant for some time now. At our annual general meeting and in my comments to the Board, I have stressed our appreciation and the growing importance for us of private donations. In future, we're going to be increasingly dependent on private sources to maintain our health and social services.”
The Lodge has also made contributions to the Alzheimer Society and a room at the Queensway-Carleton hospital. “It's a very charitable organization and we stress the fraternal aspect,” says Helmer. Old Irish animosities are far in the past.
Meanwhile, the health centre is gearing up for the possibility of a new capital campaign. Opened in December 1993, the 900 Merivale building is already overflowing with the addition of a new mental health outreach team and a steadily increasing complement of support and community groups. Expanding the third storey is on Executive Director Michael Birmingham's medium-term wish list.